Ahead of our AMG ‘7 Minute Mentor’ speed learning session in Melbourne on May 17, BWM Dentsu head of strategy Jordan Price shares why resourcefulness, relentlessness and restlessness will take you far.

TCC: Why advertising as a career?

JP: Serendipity. I started my proper working life in producer roles in film and television. I’d gone to film school. Had dreams of being the next world-influencing cinema auteur. Problem was, I soon realised that I probably didn’t have the stamina to stick it out long enough to even get a chance to see if I could get there. (Ah, the naïveté of youth.)

So I was looking to switch career paths, and had a friend who worked in advertising. Not that far off from creating film and television. Just shorter form, I figured. So I thought I might give it a go as a creative, and my friend, who knew me well, said, “Actually, you’d be a great planner.” To which I responded, “What’s that?” The rest, as they say, is history. I still don’t have the answer to my original question, but it’s been an always-fascinating, often frustrating, but most definitely fulfilling 15+ year ride since.

TCC: If you hadn’t pursued this as a career, what else would you have done?

JP: Probably would have stayed with making films, and actually discovered how high I could go in that. Or I would have become a chef. Love cooking.

TCC: Name three skills or qualities you think you need to stay at the top of your game ?

JP: 1. Resourcefulness – the ability to attack problems from many different angles; good left-brain/right-brain balance.
2. Relentlessness – if you give up easy, you’re f#$cked.
3. Restlessness – always curious; never satisfied with status quo.

TCC: What’s the best part of your job?

JP: Working with other people and “cracking” something amazing (an insight, an idea, a new way of inspiring or motivating people, etc.). There’s nothing more satisfying than that moment when you collectively realise you’ve got something good.

TCC: What’s the worst part of your job?

JP: The fact that I don’t spend enough time doing the above. Unfortunately, to pave the way for those rare moments, the majority of my time is spent sorting through unnecessary complications, gaps in understanding, politics, and competing agendas. Our ability to really understand each other is actually pretty limited. But we’re under the delusion that when we say stuff and write stuff down, we are all on the same page. This is where most issues arise. Fumbling towards better understanding is the way we stumble along together towards progress when we work in groups. It’s just frustrating that it has to take up so much time.

TCC: What’s your most embarrassing career moment?

JP: Too many to choose from. Can’t think of a particular instance that I can explain in a sentence or two. But I do know that every time I’ve made a fool of myself, it has been a result of over-confidence clouding my judgement. So I try to remind myself to always stay humble, honestly critical of myself, and as open-minded as my mind can go.

TCC: What’s your career high?

JP: I worked in Tokyo for almost 7 years, which forced me to question ALL my Western assumptions about how branding and marketing work. I also happened to be there in 2009 when the GFC hit. Coming out of that, we had major restructuring. Lost lots of people. Morale was down. Agency felt like it had lost its way. So I started thinking about what I could do to help turn things around. Long story, short, I ended up creating a brand building model I called Brand Nurturing, which, before anything else, helped me marry and make sense of both Western and Japanese approaches to marketing and brand building, in my own head.

It was fascinating to try to reconcile the differences, and when I finished, Brand Nurturing became our central philosophy within the agency. It gave people something to rally around, which helped lift morale. And from its launch to today, the agency has added over $8m in strategic consulting new business (something – clients paying agencies for strategic work alone – which was relatively unheard-of prior), which then opened the door for a lot more creative new business opportunities. I’m very proud of the fact that I was able to essentially craft a system, from scratch, essentially, that helped simplify and make sense of differences that most people felt to be irreconcilable, and which then had both agency culture and hard-core business impact.

TCC: What do you look for in a team member?

JP: As before, resourcefulness, relentlessness, and restlessness. And of course, a personality I know I will enjoy working with.

TCC: If you could step back in time and offer yourself just one piece of advice as you started your career, what would it be?

JP: 1. Don’t be afraid of being wrong. There are no objectively “right” answers, so there are no completely wrong answers. If you thought it, there must be something there. Don’t hold it back. The worst feeling is when you have hesitated, but then it turns out your thought would actually have led to a better answer. Too late.
2. You can never be too relentless, but there’s wisdom (and sanity) in knowing how to pick your battles. Observe how those who’ve been in the business for a long time pick their battles, and learn from it.
3. Don’t try to do it yourself. Don’t think you need to provide the answer. The sooner you get great at collaborating with (trusting, relying on, being open-minded to) others, the sooner you will succeed.

Jordan Price is one of our ‘7 Minute Mentors’ at our AMG speed mentoring event in Melbourne on May 17.